Twelve common strategic planning errors
1. The timeframe of the plan is too long
While business strategies should be expected to be steady and relatively unchanged for a longer period of time, strategic plans need to remain sharply focused on accomplishing strategic priorities in a timely manner. The plans also need more frequent refreshing to keep them from becoming stale and to keep the organisation energised on plan execution.
Long-term planning certainly has its place in a corporate world, but shorter operational plan horizons, going only 12 months out, allow organisations to utilise valuable current information and remain engaged in delivering to the plan milestones.
A rolling 12-month plan that is updated on a quarterly basis offers more value to the organisation in several ways. As long-term plan goals are partially or fully met, the operational component of the plan moves forward and is refreshed with more accurate and updated information for the coming 12 months. New objectives and sub-initiatives move up as others are completed and move out.
This provides actionable data for managers to work from during budgeting, and gives executives a more realistic sense of actual plan momentum and progress.
2. The plan contains too many strategic goals
Organisations often have a long wish list of goals, ranging from pie-in-the-sky to mundane. Dreaming up goals is generally not an issue. Instead, the issue is having the discipline to narrow down prioritised goals to a manageable and achievable level. Five goals is a good number to consider as a maximum.
When you consider that each goal will lead to a sequence of programmes, initiatives, activities and deliverables that will need to be managed and implemented throughout the organisation, it’s easy to see how a long list of goals can inhibit implementation success.
3. Goals are not tied to measurable outcomes
Organisational goals should be constructed in terms of outcomes that will mean something tangible to customers, employees and the organisation’s markets served. Likewise, goals should be defined in such a way that they can be measured and managed throughout the layers of the organisation. Goals should help propel action and achievement from the managers and workers who will be involved in accomplishing them.
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